Low testosterone (hypogonadism) is a condition in which a man’s body does not produce adequate amounts of the hormone testosterone. Common symptoms include fatigue, depression, low libido, and problems with erections.
Many men with hypogonadism decide to start testosterone replacement therapy, which aims to bring hormone levels back to normal. (Learn more about treatment here.)
Although the research has some discrepancies, some of the reported benefits of testosterone therapy include:
• Sexual benefits. Men may find that their sex drive increases and they have more spontaneous erections.
• More energy. Men on testosterone therapy tend to feel less fatigued.
• Better mood. Low testosterone can leave men feeling depressed, angry, irritable, and anxious. When testosterone levels are brought back to a normal range, these symptoms might diminish, with fewer mood swings.
• Increased muscle mass. Many men feel stronger and have more stamina with testosterone therapy.
Researchers are also investigating other possible benefits of testosterone replacement therapy.
For example, in February 2017, scientists reported on trials involving men over age 65 who had low testosterone due to aging. Each trial included a different number of men depending on the subject of the research. Roughly half of the participants received testosterone therapy for a year; the rest underwent a placebo treatment. The researchers discovered the following:
• In a trial of men with anemia, 58% percent were no longer anemic after a year of therapy, compared to 22% who received a placebo. In addition, testosterone therapy was associated with higher hemoglobin levels. Hemoglobin is a protein in the blood that carries oxygen from the lungs to other areas of the body. It also brings carbon dioxide back to the lungs.
• Another trial found that testosterone therapy was linked to increases in bone mineral density and strength. Low bone density increases a man’s risk for osteoporosis.
Click here to learn more about these studies.
Discussion remains regarding the exact benefits and drawbacks of testosterone treatment. Therefore, it is important that men considering testosterone therapy discuss the issue with their doctor and have a thorough checkup.
Testosterone therapy should always be done under the care of a physician. Men should also know the potential risks and side effects of testosterone therapy. Over-the-counter and “natural” testosterone products should be avoided.